BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE
OPPOSITION MDC Alliance vice-chairperson Job Sikhala, who is incarcerated at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison, yesterday denied charges that he evaded arrest and went into hiding before his arrest last month.
Instead, he told the court that police detectives used to frequent his offices for lunch and beer money.
Sikhala, who is being charged with incitement to commit public violence, told magistrate Lazini Ncube that police never looked for him as he was moving freely and even appeared at Chitungwiza Magistrates Court during the period he was said to be on the run.
The Zengeza West legislator told the court that in his life as a politician, he had never run away from law enforcement agents, adding that he was an apostle of non-violent confrontation, but the State imposed violence on him.
“I will never ever run away from persecution. I am an apostle of non-violent confrontation, but the State imposed violence upon me. I was brutalised and tortured at the hands of the State,” Sikhala told the court.
“The struggle for social justice has never been fought on the (plain) of violence and the State should not invite me in a territory I was not part of.”
“I was granted bail on subversion charges and never defaulted on bail. I never defaulted in any of the 64 cases that have brought me before the courts. The police detectives know my offices.”
Sikhala said he called his lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa after learning of journalist Hopewell Chin’ono’s arrest and instructed her to go and ask whether Law and Order police wanted him so that he could report there.
He said his offices were located within 20 metres of the main police station in Chitungwiza.
Mtetwa testified that she went to the CID Law and Order Harare with a letter informing them that Sikhala was ready to co-operate with the police if they sought to interview him, but the officer-in-charge refused to sign the letter.
Another witness, Albert Masaka, told the court that he sought an interview with Sikhala after meeting him at the Chitungwiza Magistrates Court during the same period the MDC Alliance official was said to be on the run.
Masaka said he went to Sikhala’s office to interview him after observing graffiti around Chitungwiza that read “Free Sikhala”.
He said he recorded a video which accompanied a story posted on his website.
“When I interviewed Sikhala, he told me that he had no peace since his acquittal of the subversion charges in Masvingo early this year. The graffiti was all over Chitungwiza with a message calling an the end to the persecution of Sikhala. He said there were people after him,” Masaka said.
Masaka denied that the interview was a coincidence as mentioned by the State.
He said the interview was prompted by the graffiti on most Chitungwiza precast walls concerning Sikhala’s persecution.
Sikhala denied the police statement that he was arrested while hiding in the ceiling, adding that anyone who believed the police statement needed psychiatric attention.
He said he could not manage to get into the ceiling because of his huge body.
He said he was arrested in his bedroom with his wife. Sikhala said he was a candidate for bail as he was of fixed abode and had 11 children who needed his support.
The bail ruling was postponed to today.